Treasure Island

Emily Dickinson

(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886 / Amherst / Massachusetts)

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A Cloud withdrew from the Sky


895

A Cloud withdrew from the Sky
Superior Glory be
But that Cloud and its Auxiliaries
Are forever lost to me

Had I but further scanned
Had I secured the Glow
In an Hermetic Memory
It had availed me now.

Never to pass the Angel
With a glance and a Bow
Till I am firm in Heaven
Is my intention now.

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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  • Savita Tyagi (2/16/2014 8:26:00 AM)

    I have loved Emily's poems for many reasons. To me this poem speaks of not love or religion but the awareness of mind when she was not able to retain the beauty of a moment as it was presented to her and regretted for not being vigilant. (Report) Reply

  • Thomas Vaughan Jones (2/16/2014 3:09:00 AM)

    Many poets have hidden doggerel within their anthologies. It goes with the territory. While thjey muse and doodle, waiting for inspiration they pen odd thoughts. Most of them, I dare say, would rather such pieces were never brought to light. We have to learn to see things as they truly are, not as fashion would dictate us. Emily is famous and has written some fabulous poems Sadly, this is not one of them. (Report) Reply

  • Laura Tierney (7/2/2012 3:45:00 PM)

    auxiliaries = reserves, additional,

    Hermetic = airtight, sealed

    avail - to take advantage of (Report) Reply

  • Patti Masterman (2/16/2012 5:19:00 PM)

    When Emily wrote a religious sounding poem- well let me just say, I never saw the irony of that till now. And that makes me appreciate her even more, if possible.. (Report) Reply

  • Martin O'Neill (2/16/2012 4:28:00 PM)

    Now, pardon me if I annoy people but I don't believe in judging a poem when I know who has written it if that person is famous. I read them anonymously and judge the poem on the emotions it stirs in me. That's it. Period.
    I would expect any of mine to be judged similarly.
    I find this difficult but not rhapsody inspiring as one reviewer seems to find it. I wonder if I were to write a poem and he were presented it as having been written by the estimable Miss Dickinson he would be as pleased as if he encountered me anew?
    I give this one 5 (Report) Reply

  • Carlos Echeverria (2/16/2012 10:44:00 AM)

    This is a poignant love poem. A poem of unrequited love. The Angel is Cupid with the Bow which missed Emily's mark; but, to quote a certain song, her faith in love is still devout. (Report) Reply

  • Udiah Witness to YAH (2/16/2012 8:54:00 AM)

    Well done Emily! I'm sure you are enjoying the fruits of your labor. Yes, your memory served you well and you kept it sealed from the alchemists of your day.

    The line refering to 'glance and Bow' has a double entendre to which only The Truth enlightens. I see most comments here do capture the basic essense of this poem, many because they know of Emily's beliefs. (Report) Reply

  • Paul Brookes (2/16/2012 4:56:00 AM)

    Duh.....................Not a favourite of mine Don't get it even when explained. The illusions or delusions it alludes to. Having said this it is only my opinion and I'm sure wiser heads than mine find some esoteric pleasure in it. To me it is just the wanderings of a strange and deluded mind. Hey but what do I know. (Report) Reply

  • Paul Brookes (2/16/2012 4:31:00 AM)

    Incomprehensible to say the least. ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? is she trying to say Not much I think. Possibly twaddle would fit! (Report) Reply

  • Michael Pruchnicki (2/16/2011 4:20:00 PM)

    Once again, please spare us your recondite readings of Dickinson's 'A Cloud withdrew from the Sky' or the simple minded renditions by such as POEWHIT -check out the road sign, will you, Willie! - or Craddock's unbelievable and fantastic explication of a lyric poem by the queen of American poetry! I can see in my mind's eye the willowy maiden and artist turning to the tall man in an officer's uniform of the Union and pointing to the scrap of paper at her feet - 'Look and see my admirer's message written on envelopes or whatever he can salvage from the officers' mess - give me a private's earnest request any day! Okay? ' (Report) Reply

  • Joseph Poewhit (2/16/2010 9:52:00 AM)

    The Lord does make signs and wonders for us mortals. Sort of like a road sign giving directions. (Report) Reply

  • Melody Dela Luna (2/16/2010 8:32:00 AM)

    i remember my lost angel when i read this poem. i read a lot of poems but this one really touched my heart.... (Report) Reply

  • Terence George Craddock (2/16/2010 3:31:00 AM)

    Dickinson in the original is not an easy read, she completed few poems. Dickinson’s drafts were written upon assorted scraps of paper and not prepared for publication. Read a thousand of her poems as she left them, I have; in the radical elliptical original; with gaps, dashes, personification, allusion, symbolism, inconsistent view, without organization into theme and perceive the problem. A quote a basic clarification of the extreme alterations to Dickinson’s poetry, the standard definition of her, is definitely what she is not.
    “Dickinson neither completed many poems nor prepared them for publication. She wrote her drafts on scraps of paper, grocery lists, and the backs of recipes and used envelopes. Early editors of her poems took the liberty of making them more accessible to nineteenth-century readers when several volumes of selected poems were published in the 1890s. The poems were made to appear like traditional nineteenth-century verse by assigning them titles, rearranging their syntax, normalizing their grammar, and regularizing their capitalizations. Instead of dashes editors used standard punctuation; instead of the highly elliptical telegraphic lines so characteristic of her poems editors added articles, conjunctions, and prepositions to make them more readable and in line with conventional expectations.”
    Dickinson’s themes are predominantly nature or her domestic world. However her three main literary themes draw upon classical myths, Shakespeare or as here the Bible. A Bible scholar would read this poem ‘A Cloud withdrew from the Sky’, with an ease rare, among the general public today. In Exodus, when Moses lead the ancient Israelites out of bondage from Egypt, it was Jesus Christ in pre earthly existence; who went before them, as a cloud by day and pillar of fire by night, during their forty years in the wilderness. The cloud that withdrew from the sky, heaven, in ‘Superior Glory’ was God as Christ the son. The ‘Auxiliaries’ are logically the angels of heaven that did not fall, and the Bride of Christ, the Christian Church. Traditionally some hermits devoted an entire lifetime to solitary contemplation and prayer. Dickinson devotes her life to her reclusive poetry.
    The angel of the third stanza is an auxiliary, God the Father and Christ the Son are enthroned in heaven, where Dickinson attests she intends to be. A basic Christian knowledge is necessary to read Dickinson’s biblical references. Dickinson affirms correctly ‘Never to pass the Angel... and... Bow’, because God commanded no false worship, not to bow down and worship anything except him. The Holy Spirit and Angels are still active upon this earth for Christians, they are not gone, in this poem, Dickinson passes one and remembers not to bow. (Report) Reply

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